Catherine Ruge: One of the Young Member of Parliament in Tanzania ready to use data to champion Gender equality in Serengeti.
Written by Mujuni Baitani
Recently our Data Zetu team travelled 583.64 Km to meet the Young Parliamentary Caucus. No one thought that the reception of the MPs (Member of Parliament) would be outstanding, they just left us surprised. The Young Parliamentary Caucus comprises of 48 members but our team was able to meet 35 Young MP’s, 12 Male and 23 Female. However, the enthusiasm become really as the ruling party Young MP and Opposition MP are willing to join hands and work together for the betterment of their communities regardless of their differences in political ideology.
It’s quite interesting how these Young leaders are devoting themselves in building democratic culture and institutions. Consuming a lot of their time to sensitize on the Youth agenda, educating and defending rights of different groups in their community.
I was very excited to meet Hon. Catherine Ruge who is the young Member of Parliament special seats representing Serengeti under Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA). Catherine was born in a village family where livestock keeping and agriculture was their main activities. She comes from Patriarchy society in Serengeti, which contributes much into hindering women development where girls are not given much attention on social welfare such as Education and less involvement in decision making. She has been a gender activist and also a politician. She has worked in Politics for 5 years, she believes using Political arena would make her reach more people with the message she is carrying. Also using it as an opportunity to influence laws that would improve the livelihood of the entire country.
Against all odds, she managed to go to school at her young age dreaming of being hope to the young generation in Serengeti. Hon. Catherine said, “As from youngest age I dreamed of being a highly educated woman who would bring changes to the society especially with the same culture as mine. These dreams motivated me to study hard and reach the level that I am now.” In 2007 she graduated her Bachelor of commerce (B.Com) in Accounting from the University of Dar es salaam. This was followed by a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute (ESAMI)in Arusha, also she is Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate holder by National Board of Accountants and Auditors (NBAA) in Tanzania. Currently she is pursuing her PhD on Gender and Accounting at the University of Dar es salaam.
She was very thrilled to know about the Data Zetu project which aims at Amplifying Tanzanians’ Voices through Information and data, as a member of parliament she knows the very challenges of using data as the approach of impacting the community. She believes that this opportunity will strongly help in data assessment in socio-economic challenges in Serengeti and help bringing up solutions to different issues but more specific on Gender matters. However, she explained how she is not a data scientist by any stretch of the imagination, but she has always been passionate about collaboration and open data.
Thinking about gender equality, she believes that working with Data Zetu can solve gender equality data gap in Mara region. Hon. Catherine said, “For a period of time we have been missing initiatives that can relate to measuring and monitoring gender equality in ‘thematic pillars’ such as: education, women and the economy; violence against women and political participation in Tanzania. So far even the statistics are not as accurate as we think though we still face the same challenges in different areas in the country.”
“Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics in Tanzania leading regional studies shows that the high rate of child marriage in Shinyanga which has 59 percent of child marriage.
Other regions are Tabora 58%, Mara 55%, Dodoma 51%, Lindi 48%, Mbeya 45%, Morogoro 42%, Singida 42%, Rukwa 40%, Ruvuma 39%, Mwanza 37%, Kagera 36%, Mtwara 35% , Manyara 34%, 33% Coast, Tanga 29%, 27% Arusha, Kilimanjaro 27%, 29% Kigoma, Dar es Salaam, 19%, and Iringa 8%”
Hon. Catherine has confidence in Data Zetu as a platform that will help in producing gender statistics data that address specific issues not only in Serengeti district but to the entire regions in Tanzania taking into account key issues of gender safety and ethics. She is encouraging fellow Members of Parliament, Politicians, decision makers, Civil Society and community groups to use data for effective solutions enhancing the capacity of the country to collect, disseminate and use reliable statistics and indicators to assess the relative situation of women and men in gender-sensitive and policy-relevant areas.